Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.

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President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.

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Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

MD Groups Press for Action on “Forever Chemicals”

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022   

With the Maryland General Assembly set to start next week, environmental groups are urging lawmakers to regulate toxic chemicals, after a new report shows elevated levels in state waterways.

Maryland's Department of the Environment found 75% of drinking-water samples tested contained harmful contaminants known as PFAS, or "forever chemicals."

Emily Scarr, state director of the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, which released the report, called the results "alarming," noting that this group of chemicals is used in thousands of products, from nonstick pans to firefighting foam.

"Where we found the highest levels of PFAS contamination in drinking water is around industry and around military bases, where PFAS is often used for training purposes," she said. "Some of the highest levels I've seen are in the Annapolis area, in Charles County, and some at the Aberdeen Proving Ground as well."

She said state Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Anne Arundel, and Del. Sarah Love, D-Montgomery, will introduce a bill in the General Assembly to ban PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam, food packaging and carpets, as other states have done in the past few years.

Studies have revealed links between these contaminants and serious health effects, including liver damage, cancer and harm to immune systems. Scarr explained that they also pose serious occupational health risks for folks such as firefighters, who are more likely to have increased exposure on the job.

"One of the things that makes this most dangerous is that it builds up in our bodies over time, similar to lead," she said. "So, this is particularly dangerous for our most vulnerable populations, like children who can be exposed for their lifetime."

In 2021, Maryland had to issue its first-ever fish consumption advisory. The state Department of Environment found elevated PFAS concentrations in largemouth bass, redbreast sunfish and yellow bullhead catfish in Prince George's County.


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